Before the action even begins, Folger Theatre’s The Merry Wives of Windsor surrounds audiences with the sweet sounds of the ‘70s through sound designer Matthew Neilson’s groovy Radio-BARD soundscape. Keeping the party going beyond the theater, our own Merry Wives-inspired Spotify playlist combines the tunes of the era with some more recent songs touching on the play’s themes.
We kick off our playlist with a little scene-setting. Tony Cisek’s set draws heavily on one of the era’s most iconic TV dwellings, so imagine the credits rolling over these throwback favorites.
- C’mon Get Happy
- It’s a Sunshine Day
The Brady Bunch
The main action of the story hinges on Falstaff deciding the best way to financial gain is to woo Windsor’s housewives, taking it for granted they will fall at his feet. He’s so vain, he probably thinks all songs are about him….though, for this section, he’d be right!
- You’re so Vain
- Knock Three Times
Tony Orlando & Dawn
“If you look out your window tonight / Pull in the string with the note that’s attached to my heart / Read how many times I saw you / How in my silence I adored you…” Falstaff, like Tony Orlando’s lovesick neighbor, decides to communicate his longing through letters. Except he sends identical missives to the two Mrs., leading them to suspect . .
- Blank Space
. . “he hath a thousand of these letters, writ with blank space for different names.”
- Please Mr. Postman
And yet, Falstaff still waits for a response.
- I Want You to Want Me
Part of the problem is that Falstaff’s targets are fast friends with strong wills, who aren’t inclined to swoon at his advances. We dedicate these songs to those merry, independent women and their schemes to put Falstaff in his place.
“Friendship never ends” and it’s never a good idea to get on the bad side of a bestie. We imagine when they started dating Ford and Page there was a lot of pressure for the men to earn approval.
- These Boots Are Made for Walkin’
A woman finds out a man is double-dealing her and plots to “walk all over” him. The wives may not have a romantic investment in Falstaff, but that doesn’t mean they won’t find a way of dealing his tricks back to him once they discover his duplicity.
- You’re My Best Friend
“I think if your husbands were dead, you two would marry,” Ford observes at one point. Did someone say sequel?
- Independent Women, Pt. 1
The wives aren’t the only ones in Windsor standing up for themselves. With the next section, we look to the future with some songs touching on the romantic adventures of Anne Page.
- Brandy (You’re a Fine Girl)
There are no sailors in Merry Wives, but plenty of men who think Anne’s a “fine girl” and contemplate what a “good wife she would be.” There’s also a hint that Fenton may not have always been as true and steady as he is now—kind of makes you wonder if he ever left a girl lonely in a harbor town….?
- I’m Gonna Make You Love Me
Diana Ross & The Supremes
With three different men vying for her attention, Anne’s surrounded by men trying to make them love her…
- Marry You
…and all with designs to take advantage of the beautiful night to marry her. But who will prevail?
- You Don’t Own Me
Whoever is lucky enough to win her heart, it’s clear that Anne has a mind of her own and, just like the women who came before her, is going to make it clear that she’s owned by no man.
We near the end of our list with a pair of songs celebrating letting your hair down under the moon, as the citizens of Windsor do when they gather around Herne’s Oak at the play’s conclusion.
- Dancing in the Moonlight
- Kids in the Moonlight
We the Kings
Finally, we send you off with some songs that feature prominently in our production (but to tell you exactly how would spoil the surprises!).
- Immigrant Song
- (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction
The Rolling Stones
- Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head
B. J. Thomas
And with that, we end our tuneful taste of Folger Theatre’s the Merry Wives of Windsor. We hope to see you soon at the theater, but you better hustle—Merry Wives is nearing the end of its performance run!
Don’t miss Folger Theatre’s The Merry Wives of Windsor, on stage through March 1, 2020. For tickets and more information, visit us online or call the Folger Box Office at 202.544.7077.
The Merry Wives of Windsor
By William Shakespeare
Directed by Aaron Posner; scenic design by Tony Cisek; costume design by Devon Painter; lighting design by Max Doolittle; sound design and original music by Matthew Neilson.
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